37Tech is a independent technology news publishing portal where the founder, Billy Zheng, avidly writes about the latest trends in technology. Billy also regularly contributes to Techoutsg.com. We interviewed Billy to find out more about why he started and the journey he had been through.
Please tell me about your personal background from before you conceived the idea of 37Tech.
Pretty much a normal childhood – went to primary school, secondary school, poly, army, work and uni. I worked in retail part time, before i found a full-time position at a Public Relations Agency, doing PR work for tech clients like Adobe and Lenovo.
I just finished my degree in Web Communication at Murdoch University, and I’m currently working on 37Tech and Techout Singapore while looking for a full time Job.
How did you chance upon this idea? What gap did you wish to make up for?
Well, the idea for thirty-seven ties into my interest in technology and that goes way back into my childhood. I got into technology when I was young. My parents ran a clothing company called Thirty-Seven Degrees (thus the name, 37Tech), and had PCs and Macs around for design work. I visited the office often and learnt to use a computer by accident there – I was inspired by how their designers could create amazing artwork through software and spent lots of time trying that out. We also had a computer at home, and that’s how I learnt about the internet and video games. I remember playing my first game, Warcraft II, when I was five years old!
My love for tech grew as innovations like smartphones hit the market. I was amazed at how these portable little devices could do more than my old computers. When social media came about, I often shared my thoughts on tech trends – and smartphones online. Some of my family and friends who read my posts encouraged me to start my own website, and thus 37Tech was born.
With regards to the gap – well, I think that tech is an amazing productivity multiplier and a force for good, but it can get complicated fast, with so many concepts, standards and marketing buzzwords to understand. I hope to offer readers an honest and easy to understand, yet in-depth perspective.
What motivates you on a day to day basis?
Family, friends, role models. Companies who believe that there’s more to life than the dollar – and work for the advancement of mankind, rather than short term goals. And on the flipside – companies that screw over the everyday consumer and have huge ethical problems.
Either way, both good and bad interactions and experiences drive me to write and communicate – to advocate for the good others do, or to alert others to danger.
Since the start of 37Tech, can you share some ups and downs you have experienced to our readers?
Ups – getting the first scoop on tech in Singapore. It’s such a privilege to attend events, launches and conferences and be one of the first few to know and break the news.
Downs – opportunities and interviews which start our promising but don’t work out in the end. It’s really disappointing to work hard at crafting a story and realising that it doesn’t fly well with your viewers.
More of a personal downer – but getting a really hyped-up product to review and finding out that it doesn’t do what was advertised.
What is the best advice that a mentoring entrepreneur/ anyone gave you? Is there any advice you would give to our readers?
Words from my sister and dad:
Whatever you want to do, just get started right here and now, even though you feel you’re not ready.
It’s natural to make calculated decisions and to avoid risks in your journey, but if you keep getting too caught up in doing something perfectly in the best way possible without any losses, you’ll never, ever get started on what you want to do.
Just go all in with love and do your best. If it fails? Just try again.
Another piece of advice from my old boss: We actually have two jobs. Our first and primary job is to be the best version of ourselves we can be – to be happy, to pursue our passions, be with family and friends, and do good in this world. What we do now at the workplace is our secondary job – a place for us to earn the resources and learn the knowledge to do our first job well.
If you could go back in time, what would you like to do differently? (personally, or on behalf of your site)
I would have started Thirty Seven much earlier! Personally, spent more time with my family, especially my dad. Kept in touch with my friends from school and army more. Most of all, just taken life a lot easier and put a lot less pressure on myself.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Definitely still writing about tech! Perhaps flying to the USA to cover Apple’s latest gadgets. Or maybe even working for Apple.
What do you do to maintain your work-life balance?
I keep reminding myself about the advice that my former boss gave me (first job, second job). Exercise now and then, make a point to discover new things and meet new people.
What is the greatest pride you take with regards to your website?
I’m proud of our simplicity and honesty. We aren’t the flashiest news portal our there, but we write the truth and try our best to get straight to the point. We don’t do clickbait, fluff stories or fake news. We’re about transparency – if we get paid to do a review, we’ll tell you upfront here and now.
Conclusion – Are there any other things you would like to share to our readers?
37Tech was a labor of love and it’s been a long journey learning how to run a site and to write well. I’m still learning every day, and I’m excited to see what will happen over the next few years.
The last and most important thing I’d like to share is about learning and technology.
For the uninitiated, tech and gadgets can be hard to understand and it’s tempting to just use them in the simplest way possible, to just buy the gadget or smartphone everyone’s talking about, or to dismiss the issues that we face with technology as problems others need to solve.
Well, ignorance is bliss. and many entities out there take full advantage of our ignorance to entice us to spend more, buy more, subscribe more, just get a new one to save the hassle, and so on. It’s easy to give into laziness and convenience.
My advice – don’t stop learning and just keep going!
Learn how your tools and tech work. Understand how they work, why they work and what you can do to get the most out of them. Nothing about technology is too hard to understand. Whether its earphones, smartphones, computers, cars, planes, or buildings – each of these things work in a certain way, based on a set of fundamental principles you can figure out.
Never think that you’re too stupid to learn something. If you just keep reading and finding out more about your gadgets, you’ll learn how they work, why they work – and eventually you’ll figure out how to fix them or even make better versions of them for others to use.
The same applies for everything that we do – never stop learning, discovering and exploring.
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